- 2 mins
Dealing with Post-Holiday Blues
January. Some say it feels like the longest month of the year. January is known for the start of New Year’s resolutions, time spent recovering from the social and financial obligations of the holiday season, and for some, post-holiday stress—more commonly known as post-holiday blues. This phenomenon can come in the form of feeling depressed or anxious over the financial, emotional, and physical stress of the holidays. For some, there is an adrenaline dip that occurs following a hectic schedule and change in normal routines, even if the season has been filled with free time and joyful activities. For others, the industries they work in, such as retail and hospitality, are busiest during this time of year and trying to manage both family obligations and the happiness of the public can be a lot to hold. This compounded stress gets released when the season is over and can lead to a post-holiday slump.
So if you have been feeling a bit low this month, you are not alone. And along with being aware of our own feelings, it’s important for us to remember that the young people in our life can also experience depression and other mood changes this time of year. Below we discuss what can cause this change in mood, how children are affected, and what we can do to help address sadness, stress, or anxiety in kids and get them back on track.
What Causes Post-Holiday Blues?
January and February are usually the most difficult months for people with seasonal affective disorder or SAD, which typically develops in adulthood but can also affect older children and teens. The reduced level of sunlight can disrupt the body’s internal clock. It may also cause a drop in serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood. In addition, winter cold can lead to spending less time outdoors, which can negatively affect children’s mental health. Some children may experience charged emotions around a situation involving divorced or separated parents, which can be especially difficult around the holidays. Diet can also play a major role, as overindulgence in rich and sugary foods has its consequences.
Another common factor in post-holiday blues is the expectations of the time of year versus the realities. Having conversations with our children about the “hype” of the holidays versus their true meaning and purpose can help them be better prepared to manage their own expectations, and less likely to feel let down when returning to regular routines.
Signs of Post-Holiday Blues in Children
We can easily miss signs of post-holiday blues in children, as they show up in a variety of different ways. Signs can include the following:
- Tears for a minor reason or for no reason at all
- Nervous behaviors such as nail biting and hair twirling
- Physical complaints like headaches and stomachaches
- Regression to younger behaviors such as bedwetting and temper tantrums
- Withdrawal from school, friends, or family
- Other obvious changes in regular behavior
Solutions for the Blues
Children cope with stress and anxiety in different ways. Not having a daily routine for kids can be fine during the excitement of the holidays, but it takes work and dedication along with a strong helping of patience to get them back on track when life returns to normal. This is where it’s key to focus emphasis on the basics.
- Physical exercise—Simply going for a walk can be an excellent mood lifter. This is also a great opportunity to have a chat with your child about their day and any struggles they may be having. Checking in with them about their mental health can help them to vocalize hard feelings and process them.
- Getting enough rest and sleep—A soothing, predictable bedtime leads to a good night’s sleep. Sticking to a regular bedtime is a key element, as regularity and quality of sleep can impact everything from appetite to stress to mood. Try winding down the evening with some calming music, which can help children relax. Bedtime stories for kids provide a great opportunity to develop connection and emotional intelligence. Studies show making bedtime stories a routine can have a positive impact on children’s overall mental well-being. If you need access to some amazing stories, why not try the Meet the Moshlings: Listen & Play e-book, where you can find all sorts of Moshlings to help with sleeping routines, adventures and creativity.
- Reestablishing routines and nonnegotiables—Returning to regular routines and expectations can be a huge help in getting the whole family on track to a more consistently upbeat attitude. The holidays are often a time for later nights and indulging in treats, and now that time has passed. It’s especially important that you return to or refine the school morning routine for kids, so they can start their day off rested, well nourished, and ready to learn and handle what comes their way.
- Modeling—This is sometimes an underrepresented approach to guiding and supporting kids. If we adults model expressing our own challenges and feelings around the holidays and post-holiday stress and anxiety, we can also model the ways in which we deal with it. Simply saying something like “I am feeling a little down today. I am going to listen to calming music, meditate, and have an early night because I know I will feel so much better tomorrow.” This allows for the openness to discuss hard feelings, acknowledge that they are temporary, and recognize that we have tools that can help us get to a more positive and fruitful space.
The transition into the new year can be a difficult on. It’s important that your child knows that they are not alone in this journey. Anxiety is as normal for kids as it is for us. Communicating about our struggles together, developing clear routines, and prioritizing sleep and rest are ways to combat post-holiday stress. Moshi has a variety of ways to support both you and your child during this time. Choose from a wide variety of stories, music, meditations, and more. The Moshlings are here to help your young person in navigating confusing emotions and to develop their toolbox that they can reach for anytime they feel that need for support. Focusing on mental health and well-being is a resolution that can benefit all areas of our lives, and that way we can truly have a very Happy New Year!